When my mother-in-law passed away, her daughters wanted her china, silver, jewelry, quilts, and such. After they sorted and took what they wanted, and another daughter-in-law inherited the house and then lost it to the bank, I purchased the old home place and began the difficult task of sifting through the accumulated bits and junk, relics of a lifetime, carelessly tossed aside. Rummaging through the remnants scattered and piled in heaps, I was overjoyed to discover that the real treasures of this woman's life had been left behind. Things like her old home-made bag of clothes pins. Picking up a handful my mind traveled back long ago, to bright summer mornings when she and I worked companionably alongside each other hanging out laundry and laughing and chatting to the sound of songbirds and the smell of damp cotton and the snap of wet clothes we shook out before pinning them to the line. I lovingly gathered up the spilled pins and putting them back in the old sack brought them home with me. More than the china that collected dust or the jewelry stashed away in a secret box, these old clothes pins, worn smooth with use by her loving, hard-working hands, these bits of wood and metal are the real treasures from her life. And I cherish them.
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